Mitchell jobless rate drop could be concern
The drop in Mitchell's unemployment rate might not be the good news it seems. The city's February unemployment rate was reported Friday by the state Department of Labor. At 5.1 percent, it was down significantly from the city's 6.4 percent rate i...
The drop in Mitchell's unemployment rate might not be the good news it seems.
The city's February unemployment rate was reported Friday by the state Department of Labor. At 5.1 percent, it was down significantly from the city's 6.4 percent rate in January.
Bryan Hisel, executive director of the Mitchell Area Development Corporation and Mitchell Area Chamber of Commerce, said the drop in the rate could be cause for concern.
"Unemployment tends to do this -- it spikes up, and then it lowers rather rapidly," Hisel said. "What it means is that folks left town."
If workers are leaving the city, it could create a workforce problem in the future when the economy turns around and local companies want to start hiring again.
"Frankly, we're worried about 2010 and '11 and '12, when the are classified as either employed or unemployed. Mitchell's labor force shrank by 50 from 8,695 in January to 8,645 in February.
The number of employed people increased by 60 from 8,140 in economy bounces back," Hisel said, "and whether we're going to have the capability to provide the workforce then that employers will need."
Hisel's concern has some of its basis in the city's shrinking "labor force," which consists of all non-institutionalized civilians 16 and older who January to 8,200 in February. Hisel said that trend might not be entirely positive, because it could be partly explained by people accepting lesser positions after being laid off.
"Sometimes folks take employment or part-time employment in a field other than what they're trained in, and they do that for a while to make ends meet," Hisel said. "They're employed, but they're underemployed."
The March unemployment rate for Mitchell, which will be released in late April, will be of particular interest because of the 75 layoffs announced in March by local trailer manufacturer Trail King. That was the biggest single layoff announcement locally since the current economic recession began.
The statewide unemployment rate increased from 4.4 percent in January to 4.6 percent in February. Nationally, the unemployment rate rose from 7.6 percent to 8.1 percent.